Joe Bast | September 4, 2023

According to a 2022 report from Pew Opinion Research, “Only two-in-ten Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right ‘just about always’ (2%) or ‘most of the time’ (19%). Trust in the government has declined somewhat since last year, when 24% said they could trust the government at least most of the time.”

            The next time you feel sad because other people don’t share your skepticism toward big government, remind yourself that nearly 80% of your fellow citizens agree with you! You won’t find that fact mentioned by the corporate media or admitted by any elected officials!

            Why don’t we trust government? The stolen 2020 presidential election has to top the list, followed by the Covid “plandemic,” the global warming scam, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the endless wars in the Middle East and now against Russia, and so much more. In each of these cases we learned that the national government acted against our interests and then lied about what it did.

            Knowing this, what can enlightened citizens do to resist tyranny and protect their rights? Matthew J. Trewhella, a minister in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, has a solution. He calls it “the doctrine of the lesser magistrates.” His 2013 book with the same title brilliantly explains the history and scope of the doctrine and the procedures patriots can use to act on it.

            Trewhella acknowledges three better-known means by which citizens can protect their freedoms: “the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” The doctrine of the lesser magistrates is “a lesser-known tool which the founders themselves employed.”

            The doctrine “declares that when the superior or higher civil authority makes unjust/immoral laws or decrees, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both a right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lesser authorities even have the right and obligation to actively resist the superior authority.”

            Trewhella traces the doctrine back to the Roman Empire, the Magna Carta (1215), and the early days of the Christian church.  Early Christians and ministers understood that “when the State commands that which God forbids or forbids that which God commands, men have a duty to obey God rather than man.”

            Lesser magistrates also have a right and duty to oppose policies that violate the Constitution or attack the person, property, or liberty of the people they represent.  That right, according to Trewhella, exists as a matter of common law regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court or lower courts define violations.

            Lesser magistrates place themselves between unjust rulers and their citizens, an action called interpositioning. To do this successfully they need courage and an understanding of their own powers. They also need the support of citizens willing to “remonstrate,” an archaic word meaning to present a strong argument against an act or measure. In today’s world, that means public protests, signing petitions, and writing letters.

            Lesser magistrates aren’t always right. Trewhella gives the example of California Gov. Gavin Newsom who, while Mayor of San Francisco, defied both state law and God’s law by issuing state marriage licenses to homosexuals.  In such cases, higher authorities need to assert their authority and citizens must demonstrate they support their actions.

            “Higher magistrates tend to respond negatively when their orders, laws, or edicts are defied,” writes Trewhella. He warns, “there will be a fight,” and tells patriots what tactics to look out for. For example, “Those who support the unjust or immoral law will revile the one who resists for not supporting the ‘law of the land.’” Their action “actually stands the rule of law on its head.”

            “The interposition of the lesser magistrates is absolutely critical for the preservation of liberty,” Trewhella writes near the end of the book. “The hour for them to stand is upon us.”

            Patriots should buy and carefully read this book. They should share it with sheriffs and other local officials especially, since they are the first line of defense against unconstitutional government actions and most readily held accountable by citizens. County and state officials should be informed as well, since so many of those wrongly believe their function is to simply act as a conduit for whatever laws the national government enacts.

Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates